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Dear Clare - Parent Governor Election Procedure

Discussion in 'Governors' started by prmjones, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. Dear Clare,
    A candidate for election as a parent governor, at a school where I am the clerk, has complained that a significant number of ballot papers did not reach parents. As a result, he received fewer votes than another parent (one parent governor vacancy only)
    The ballot papers were sent, in the main, as is usual practice by the school, via the children. Only 38% of ballot papers were subsequently returned. Sending out the ballot papers with the children obviously saves money which is why the school used it.
    What advice should I offer to the Headteacher please?
    Regards.
    Peter.
     
  2. Dear Clare,
    A candidate for election as a parent governor, at a school where I am the clerk, has complained that a significant number of ballot papers did not reach parents. As a result, he received fewer votes than another parent (one parent governor vacancy only)
    The ballot papers were sent, in the main, as is usual practice by the school, via the children. Only 38% of ballot papers were subsequently returned. Sending out the ballot papers with the children obviously saves money which is why the school used it.
    What advice should I offer to the Headteacher please?
    Regards.
    Peter.
     
  3. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Peter,
    I can't see that the the parent complaining has much of a leg to stand on. Presumably this is a Primary School. The School and LA must have procedures in place as to how elections will be carried out in this school.
    Check what these proceedures were and check that they were carried out. I think that election of Parent governors are too important to leave to the chance of invitations being left in the bottom of a school child's bag and should be sent by post. Have you any evidence that a whole class for instance was missed out. Was the parent in questions and indeeed all the nominees invited to the count. If not why not.
    The school must keep all votes in a safe place for 6 months after the election. The parent who has complained has the right to check those voting papers and any marking sheets used. The head should have been the returning officer and their ought to have been a scrutineer to ensure fairness.
    What evidence does the complainant have of significant numbers of ballot papers not reaching parents?



     
  4. Sending ballot papers via children in primary seems OK to me and would appear to be a fairly widespread method.
    If a number went missing how does candidate know that the "missing" votes would be for him?
    Agree that parent probably does not have evidence that there were missing papers. Possibly a playground conversation with another parent along the lines of "Did you vote?" "No, I don't recall getting a ballot paper"
    If in doubt take advice from the Governance Unit of your Local Authority and also advise the CoG ASAP.
     
  5. Hi Peter
    The Regulations say that ‘such steps as are reasonably practicable' should be taken to ensure that every eligible person knows about the vacancy, their eligibility to stand and vote and is provided with the opportunity to vote. It does not go into details about what ‘reasonably practicable' means; in my experience a letter via ‘pupil post' is the common means of informing parents. You say only 38% of ballot papers were returned, is this unusual for the school? If the parent could show that pupils had not been given letters in the first place then there may be grounds for holding the election again - but if the school is clear that pupils were given the papers then it's just unfortunate.
    The school appears to have carried out the election in accordance with its usual procedures and the candidate with the most votes was elected. There is no guarantee that had more parents submitted ballot papers they would have voted for the other candidate - even if the disappointed candidate may like to think so.
    Unless there are grounds for believing that election was fatally flawed because pupils were not given the letters to take home in the first place, then I would uphold the result. I would suggest that the head (or indeed yourself as Chair of Governors) replies sympathetically but firmly - sorry that Mr X is disappointed that he did not get elected, but that as the election was carried out in accordance with the school's usual procedures there are no grounds for re-running the election.
     
  6. Well I disagree with the others here.

    Claire quite correctly refers to the actual wording to the regs which stress "reasonable steps" to contact "... EVERY eligible person .." (my caps)

    So the question then is "Does sticking a letter in each book bag achieve this?"

    IMHO, the answer is obviously no.

    For a start, not every parent lives with their children.
    So what about divorced parents. How do the ballot papers get to the parents who don't live with the child?

    And what about the parents that do live together?
    Do all the working dads/mums get their ballot papers from the stay-at-home mum/dad?

    And how does the school ensure that the correct quantity of ballot papers go in each book bag?

    Given that, even today, we find more dad's working full time and more mum's staying at home with the kids (and whether we like it or it, that is a truism), any failure to ensure the the process connects with the working parents means that the process is institutionally gender-biased.

    And don't forget that the DfE definition of what constitutes a parent includes anyone with parental responsibility. This can include parents, step-parents, foster parents and even grand parents in some cases.

    That said, a 38% return should approximate to three quarters of the number on roll, given that on average each child has approx. 2 parents, i.e. if you have 200 pupils in the school a 38% return should work out at about 150 votes. If you can confirm those sorts of numbers I don't think you have too much to worry about.

    But if not, then your processes are flawed and you may need to reconsider how you do it!
     

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